After a year of watching so many California superstars clown or shrug their way through shows, it was a real pleasure to witness the thorough professionalism of the Doobie Brothers and Carl Wilson at the Merriweather Post Pavilion last night. Though these two acts have a rather conservative approach to rock 'n' roll, they perform with the kind of old-fashioned craft and talent worth conserving.
The Doobie Brothers were recording the show for a live album. Except for a few extra solos, they stuck pretty closely to the recorded arrangements. Inspired by the magnetic tape, they performed medleys of their old hits with extra style and skill. Most exceptional with Michael McDonald's grainy voice, which caressed his own memorable melodies with California warmth.
As a founding member of the Beach Boys, Carl Wilson helped found the California rock style that the Doobies inherited. Now on sabbatical from the Beach Boys, Wilson led his own band through six songs from his solo album, two Beach Boys' songs and Sam & Dave's "I Thank You." The sound combined the Beach Boys' vocal lushness with Sam & Dave's direct punch. Best were Wilson's slower tunes, like "Heavien" and "Long, Promised Road," where Wilson sang with the perfect-pitched hopeful yearning that is a Beach Boys' trademark.